Nicholas Saunders created ecstasy.org and maintained it until his death in a car accident in February 1998.
Nicholas first took ecstasy in 1988 and described his experience as
This site (and three books, "E for Ecstasy', 'Ecstasy and the Dance Culture' and 'Ecstasy Reconsidered') came out of Nicholas's wish to find out all that he could about ecstasy, from both academic research and users' personal experiences. He discovered that the media portrayal of the drug was frequently wildly inaccurate, but that ecstasy-users' folk wisdom was often equally lacking in factual information. He sought to provide accurate, objective and up-to-date information which would enable people to make up their own minds on the subject.
Nicholas appreciated the links between ecstasy and dance culture, he wrote:
but he also explored other aspects of ecstasy, such as its use by therapists, stories that it was breaking down barriers between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, its secretive use by monks and a rabbi, and its role in problem-solving and the arts.
A particular concern of Nicholas's was to make the latest academic research on ecstasy more widely available by putting the findings into laypersons language and offering alternative scientific viewpoints on the data, where they existed. The widespread concern about possible long term damage of ecstasy use was reflected in his last book 'Ecstasy Reconsidered' which looked at the complex subject in depth with chapters written by experts on the risks and dangers of ecstasy use.
Many people who reached Nicholas through this site or his ecstasy books, only knew of him as the 'ecstasy guru', but his life encompassed many more and varied interests. He wrote the bestselling 'Alternative London' in the 70s, which became a bible for many seeking an alternative lifestyle at the time.
Nicholas put some of his theories on the potential of different social structures into practice in the 1980s when he developed Neal's Yard in Covent Garden to create a colourful oasis of alternative culture in central London.
In the last couple of years of his life he was exploring his interest in the spiritual uses of psychoactive drugs, researching and writing a book on the subject.
At 9pm GMT on February 3rd 1999 we will be marking the anniversary of Nicholas' death with a candle-lit meditation, and are asking those who wish to remember Nicholas to light a candle at this time.
There is a Memorial Site for Nicholas where you can find out more about his life, and also share memories.
There is also a site for the spiritual book Nicholas was working on.